Just a few weeks prior to their impending marriage, Sandra Lee Dennis, was suddenly confronted with the heart-wrenching fact that her husband to be, and close soul companion of six years, wanted out of their relationship.
In one swift moment her world turned into one of utter confusion – one that was rapidly taking her away from what she thought was going to be an exciting future with a man with whom she become deeply emotional bonded.
The result of the breakdown in her relationship invoked from within her deep feelings of betrayal as she came to realize that the sense of trust that had built up within herself had now been completely demolished.
The task she now faced, or so her friends advised her, was to pick herself up, dust herself off and to get on with life but, as Dennis states in the opening to her book
…betrayal can crack a person open to profound healing, spiritual growth and unchartered depths of heart.
This personal tragedy was clearly a problem that was not going to be solved either quickly or very easily!
When Trust Shatters
In her book ‘Love and the Mystery of Betrayal’, Dennis reveals her initial inability to accept the sheer amount of emotional turmoil that the betrayal had heaped upon.
As time went by, and following a serious of profound personal experiences, she came to realise that deep within herself the damage was much greater than anyone could have initially expected.
Through the fog of her own personal emotional pain Dennis became increasingly determined to drill down into the exact circumstances that brought about her misfortune and as a result to discover whether there was something of value to be drawn from the experience.
This approach opened her up to a series of dramatic realizations regarding the nature of the human spirit – the first one being that
…when we love, we give another the power to destroy us… And we trust them not to.
As Dennis makes clear throughout her book, once that trust shatters, for whatever reason, our lives are torn apart dramatically and almost irreparably as a consequence of the resulting trauma.
Very often the final upshot of it all is that those delicate and beautiful qualities that make life worth living simply leave us.
In short, and as Dennis so succinctly puts it in her book,
trauma causes soul loss
The challenge, or so it would seem, when dealing with betrayal is to recognize the deep spiritual impact that a broken heart conveys upon the one betrayed for, rather conversely, it is by working with this deep emotional pain that we are given the opportunity to reunite all fractured parts of our shattered psyche into one individuated self – a new being that learns to express itself through the heart rather than the mind.
The heart center is, after all, the portal through which universal God energy flows. In dealing with its cessation one is almost obligated to drop through the crack that opens up and to enter a dark and unknown domain that is not of your own choosing.
Soon after the split with her fiancé Dennis experienced a number of distressing physical ailments which, so she later found out, was due to the continued condition of Soul bonding that still remained with her ex-partner and which had developed as a result of their previously deep sexual connections.
This led her to understand that many women who are sensitive to what she calls “subtle-body intelligence” can also experience physical problems, often over a prolonged period, resulting from the sexual and emotional activity of their cheating partners.
For Dennis removal of these connections required exploration into dozens of healing modalities before she eventually found acupuncture to offer a solution to the damage caused within her sexual body.
In many ways this therapy acted as the doorway into her own spirituality for, as Dennis explains
For me, the cervix had become the physical correlate of a spiritual altar for the reviled and repressed aspect of the feminine, symbolized by the dark goddess,
Seasons of the Hollow Soul
In part three of ‘Love and the Mystery of Betrayal’, Sandra Lee Dennis begins with a less-emotive evaluation of the various internal process that occur following an act of betrayal.
Instead the book evaluates the neurological damage that results from trauma.
Here Dennis also considers the impact of early childhood conditioning – even the experience of child birth, and how it acts in determining our later life experience.
In reflecting upon the author’s own betrayal experience the book enters increasingly dark areas of the human experience with an examination of the deep pain and suffering to which we often are exposed – experiences that are so destructive that they can lead the sufferer to the condition best described as
The Dark Night of the Soul.
It is an event which Jung recognized as being central to the individuation process.
The Awakening Heart
Dennis draws her book to a close with a detailed commentary on the call to embrace the heart and to engage with its healing.
As an essential part of its repair the unavoidable subject of forgiveness arises as the equally challenging necessity to simply let go.
This was, for the author, an important stage in the long journey back to living anywhere near a normal life and in this stage she increasingly found the development of her own ‘compassionate heart’ as the point of turning things around.
Day by day more light returned back into her life, literally as well as metaphorically, and one day it brought her to hear the whisper of her heart in response to her asking it what it truly wanted.
The reply she received was
…to love God – at which point Dennis recognized the immense teaching cycle that she had been through and a little of its purpose in forcing her to experience the re-integration of all of the fractured parts of her own Soul.
Betrayal comes to all of us at some point in our lives and in somewhat differing ways.
When it does the way that we respond to it will vary according to the Soul lessons that are delicately woven into the heart of the experience.
For Sandra Lee Dennis the lessons that she had to learn from her earth-shattering betrayal experience invoked a sense of trauma that she did not at first recognize.
As a reader of her personal account of the aftermath of the experience one is left feeling deeply humbled by someone so prepared to bare her pain to a wider audience, to relive what was so evidently a deeply challenging time in her life and to evaluate the broader and more universal ramifications of a society that singularly fails to integrate the deeper and more spiritual elements to trauma.
Sandra Lee Dennis comes over in her book as a woman with deep passions and it seems that this powerful aspect to her nature helped pulled her through and out of a traumatic experience – one which lesser mortals would have probably drowned in.
The result of the story that our author tells regarding the anger, resentment, fear, loathing and emergence of other darkly repressed facets to her own character is dark but honest and deeply inspiring.
As a reader I became deeply engrossed in this fraught exploration of the darkest corners of a wounded psyche and watched events and insights unfold as she gradually fought her own demons and emerged a stronger, more awakened and sympathetic person.
Whilst the story of the journey of emergence that Dennis took is captivating – one that is brought to life through its sheer quality of writing, I actually found the interplay between the author’s personal experiences and the mythic quests that reside within all of us central to making this book such a powerfully epic tale.
The result is an outstanding publication – one that no single person is likely to emerge from reading without being deeply moved and more than a little bit transformed.
The story of Sandra Lee Dennis’s journey through betrayal, deep trauma and eventual healing is not only a triumphant tour-de-force but is a humbling reminder that the true path to the light is indeed through the darkness and spiritual confusion that can descend upon us at unannounced at any time in our lives. This is an epic tale told by an equally epic woman!